Robots at CES 2020: Robo-cats, sex tech, pizza makers and more

The Las Vegas tech show will offer new insights into the role of robots in our lives.

Katie Collins Senior European Correspondent
Katie a UK-based news reporter and features writer. Officially, she is CNET's European correspondent, covering tech policy and Big Tech in the EU and UK. Unofficially, she serves as CNET's Taylor Swift correspondent. You can also find her writing about tech for good, ethics and human rights, the climate crisis, robots, travel and digital culture. She was once described a "living synth" by London's Evening Standard for having a microchip injected into her hand.
Katie Collins
4 min read
Watch this: Lovot, the love robot, offers a warm hug of friendship for a ridiculous price at CES 2019

As 2020 grinds into gear, CNET will be kick-starting a new decade with a trip to the Nevada desert for the annual tech bonanza CES. When we arrive in Las Vegas, we expect to be greeted by a bunch of new TVs, scores of eccentric gadgets and a whole gaggle of robots .

We're still some years away from robots outnumbering humans at the show, but every year it does seem as though more bots are present on the show floor. In the past decade we've seen robots become more complex, more affordable and more diverse. The number of contexts in which they play a role in our lives -- from the home to the workplace and beyond -- have expanded to provide us with a vision of how humans and robots will coexist and collaborate in the future.

At CES , we'll likely see this broad range of robots on full display. Among the CES Innovation Award nominees alone there's the latest Roomba robot vacuum cleaner, an esports fighting robot and the show-stealing star of CES 2019, Groove X's huggable companion robot Lovot

Also back for the show will be the latest and greatest version of Omron's ping-pong-playing robot, Forpheus, and Lora DiCarlo's sex toy Ose, which is finally ready and on sale after being awarded an Innovation Award in 2019.

We can't wait to be surprised and delighted by the bots on display at the show. Ahead of CES kicking off next week, here are three things we're particularly excited to see.

Get yourself a pizza


We're already hungry for robot-made pizza.


One of the best reasons to visit Vegas is the sheer array of excellent food on offer, and at CES there'll be one more option as Seattle-based company Picnic brings its pizza-assembly robot to the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Picnic's robot can produce up to 300 12-inch personalized pizzas per hour, and already is doing so at T-Mobile Park in Seattle. In the future, the technology could well be adapted to make up other dishes, including buns, bowls, tortillas and plates. For now, though, pizza is the focus, and we'll be sure to get our best taste-testers on the case of checking for even dispersal of cheese, tomato, salami and other fixings.

Picnic will reveal the exact location of its robots on its website ahead of CES -- we'll race you to the front of the queue.

Pets versus robots


Tombot is designed for seniors with dementia.


Comparing robots to one another is usually a pointless pursuit, given how diverse they are in both build and purpose. The one exception is when judging which robot is the cutest -- and there's a lot of competition.

The cutest robots are often designed for the home, either as toys or as companions. The best-known of these is Sony's Aibo , the robo-dog pet surrogate. At CES, we expect to see a number of robots who could rival Aibo for your affections.

Shenzhen-based Elephant Robotics is listed as attending the show. And although the company historically has focused on making robotic arms, we're hoping to see another project it's been working on. 

In December, it put its robotic feline MarsCat on Kickstarter, and we're hoping to play with the purring, pouncing bionic robo-cat at the show. We're also crossing our fingers that we may meet Tombot, a realistic Labrador companion robot designed for seniors with dementia.


MarsCat ... here, kitty kitty.

Elephant Robotics

As well as robots that are pets, we'll also see robots for pets at the show, including the LavvieBot smart litter tray for cats and the launch of Mia, a robot that will play with your precious puss or pooch and dispense dry food and treats.

Righteous robots

One big trend at CES will be the focus on robots for good. A series of talks and panel discussions will look at the ways robots are helping humans, including the role they'll increasingly play in saving lives and saving the planet.

The sessions will examine robots as forces for good, looking at how they're assisting humans in preserving rare marine species deep under the sea and in exploring in outer space -- the moon, Mars and beyond.

Meanwhile, Bosch will present a sensor system that'll ride around on NASA's Astrobee robot, which roams the International Space Station, to detect sounds that could indicate technical faults.

We're also expecting to see a number of advances in surgical robots and robotic hands, as well as robots designed to help with care and recovery.

For all the robot news and other announcements coming out of CES, be sure to keep your eyes fixed on CNET Jan. 5-10.

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